I think we are always led somehow to imagine that the big fancy meta deconstructors of fictionality are men, and women just get on with quietly telling stories, but Beattie absolutely does both here, in a bravura performance on a piece of ivory two inches wide. Somehow in two pages she gives the whole life cycle of a house, a shared relationship, a community. It seems at first like a rather random collection of fragments until you begin to see the quiet hints tucked within the engraving. “People forget years and remember moments”: as long as I live I’ll remember that perfect Beattie line. Book emoji, heart emoji, book emoji, heart emoji, book emoji.
First published in Where You’ll Find Me and Other Stories, Linden/Simon & Schuster, 1986